In an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, his first since taking the job earlier this month, Kit Malthouse said Liz Truss has asked him to look at areas that want a grammar school, as well as the expansion of existing ones.
He said the Department for Education are “beavering away” on ways the Government can make good on the Prime Minister’s campaign pledge, and if Ms Truss presses forward with the policy it will require legislation in the House of Commons.
The new Education Secretary also confirmed plans for two vocational colleges to rival Oxford and Cambridge, dubbed “Voxbridge”, are also set to be given the go-ahead, with further details expected in the spring.
He said he was “impatient” to get schools back on track after the profound impact that lockdown had on children’s learning.
“We need to be impatient,” he said, adding we need to “make sure we get back onto a kind of even keel as quickly as we can.”
Mr Malthouse, who has family in North Yorkshire, said Ms Truss has asked him and his team to look “seriously” at the policy of looking at areas that want to have [a grammar school]or indeed, that want to expand ”.
Last week the Prime Minister appointed pro-grammar school MPs Kelly Tolhurst and Jonathan Gullis to roles in his department.
“We’re about parental choice, everybody needs to be able to make a choice for their kids,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“She definitely wants to address the strong desire in quite a lot of parents to reflect the benefits that many got from grammar schools.
“What we want to try and do is get to a position where we can fulfill the desire of some people, for a certain kind of education.”
Mr Malthouse said grammar schools had an “educational ethos” that it was the Government’s obligation to give the option to parents around the UK.
The Prime Minister has previously described herself as a “huge supporter” of the schools, and has even sent her own children to one, pledging to give other parents to be able to have the option to do so as well.
Yorkshire currently only has six grammar schools, located only in North or West Yorkshire, compared to more than 150 in the rest of England.
Kent, meanwhile, has 32 selective schools, despite a population being a fifth of God’s Own County.
New grammar schools were banned in England by New Labor in 1998, and previous attempts to lift the moratorium have been dropped, such as in 2017, despite Theresa May’s commitment to the policy.
Mr Mathouse also confirmed another one of Ms Truss’ “key missions” she has entrusted him with was to bring vocational and university education onto an equal footing with each other.
He confirmed to the Yorkshire Post that plans could be unveiled as early as spring over the establishment of two vocational colleges at the standard Oxford and Cambridge universities.
The policy was a campaign pledge which Liz Truss signed up to after being asked by Jake Berry, the then-chair of the Northern Research Group, who she has now appointed as party chairman.
“It’s an incredibly exciting idea,” said Mr Malthouse.
“Having centers of excellence, as there is with universities, I think, is a really great idea, so we’ll be taking that forward in developing the policy over the months to come.”
He also said that his department was also running a project with its chief statistician and Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, by “horizon scanning” for what the future of work will look like, and what skills need to be developed in education. .
“You start to see a really compelling story there for young people that says, look, these are going to be the big industries of the future with synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, whatever it might be, here is the path to get you there on an accelerated basis.
“That will involve both an element of academic study, but really hands-on experience, which will get you there quicker, and also without student loan.”